You might have heard the term “caregiver” being bandied about these days, but what does it actually refer to? Read on to find out more about the profession and what kind of roles you can expect to have as you progress as a caregiver.
What is a caregiver?
In essence, a caregiver is someone who provides assistance in meeting the daily needs of another individual.
Caregivers are typically categorised as formal or informal. Formal caregivers are paid for their services and have had training and education in providing care – these encompass a wide spectrum, from the healthcare professionals you’re used to like nurses and physicians, to individuals working with home health agencies.
On the other hand, informal caregivers refers to those who give care to family or friends, usually without payment. Chances are, you’ve probably filled the shoes of an informal caregiver at some point in your life, taking care of a loved one who is ill, ageing, or disabled. In fact, a caregiver does not need to have had professional experience or technical knowledge of healthcare to be classified as such. Simply helping another individual with basic activities of daily living (ADLs) like getting dressed, or transportation and grocery shopping, makes you a caregiver.
Whether it be formal or informal, caregivers are driven by a compassion to improve someone else’s quality of life. This is no mean feat – caregivers must possess an abundance of empathy and compassion, which they convey to their charges through patience and caregiving, and it takes a special disposition to provide such emotional labour in addition to physical work.
Despite the challenges that come with the profession, caregiving can be a very fulfilling and rewarding career.
Career paths for caregivers
Healthcare Specialist / Healthcare Assistant
Often, caregivers will choose to specialise in caring for specific groups, such as mental health or dementia patients. This can be shaped by the caregiving work that you have been doing – perhaps you feel most comfortable working with ageing patients, or supporting disabled individuals in their daily life.
Pursuing specialisation often means going for further education. If you are interested in working with the aged, you can look into gerontology, which is the study of ageing and old age in adults. Depending on your current employment situation, you can sometimes even discuss with your employer to check if your company can fund your further education. At Homage, we offer various speciality courses that can help our Care Professionals (aka Care Pros) manage more niche illnesses such as dementia or stroke care. This ensures lifelong learning for our Care Pros and ensure that they are well-equipped to manage a variety of assignments and patients.
More generally, there are also several caregiving training courses available that can equip you with the skills and knowledge required to deliver care to specific groups of individuals. These specialised courses can also cover areas such as dementia, autism, and diabetes. By giving you a better understanding of the challenges and needs faced by your patients, attending such specialised courses can enhance the quality of your care. With professional experience, relevant skills training, you can take up even more cases in your area of specialisation.
💰 Earn over $5,000 per month as a Homage Care Professional
Find out more about our various roles below:
For caregivers, nursing can also be a natural career progression. As a nurse, you will provide your patients with healthcare and dietary advice, and even emotional support to them and their families.
Nurses also work as part of a team including doctors and other healthcare professionals. You will also have a broader job scope as compared to a caregiver’s: for example, there are procedures that only licensed nurses can perform, like tube insertions and injections. In general, there are two types of nurses, enrolled and registered nurses.
A key difference between the two are the education requirements – you will need a NITEC in Nursing to be an enrolled nurse, and a Diploma in Nursing or a Bachelor of Science (Nursing) to be a registered nurse. In the clinical track, a Nurse Clinician looking to become an Advanced Practice Nurse must also obtain a Master’s Degree.
In terms of job scope, an enrolled nurse works under the professional supervision of a registered nurse, providing support to the Registered Nurse in providing patient care. Registered Nurses have greater accountability, but are also able to specialise further in four career tracks – Management, Education, Clinical Nursing, and Research.
When thinking about furthering your caregiving career in nursing, remember to consider whether you will like to specialise. While both types of nurses are focused on patient care, training to be a registered nurse can help you specialise further, but has a higher barrier to entry. In contrast, if you are not looking to specialise and are looking to provide care to a greater variety of patients, training to be an enrolled nurse may be sufficient.
If you enjoy sharing your skills, you might be a good candidate to be a caregiving trainer. This role is extremely important as it ensures that the next generation of caregivers are equally as competent and can provide high-quality care to their patients. If you enjoy imparting knowledge to others and interacting with people, this would be a great career track to consider as you can still be a professional caregiver, while being a caregiver mentor or trainer on the side.
As a professional caregiver, you will be well-equipped to understand the needs of most patients. In these intimate and personal environments, you will be able to form stronger bonds between you and your patient, as well as their family, allowing you to deliver high-quality and personalised one-to-one care.
If you choose to focus on home care, you can use your caregiving skills and knowledge to evaluate the patient’s condition, and relay accurate information to them as well as to the healthcare team. This ensures that the patient receives optimal care, with a medical regimen that remains supple and responsive to their condition.
Additionally, the patient’s family will constantly look to you for advice – as a home care professional, you will need to put them at ease, while conveying the patient’s condition to them in an easily digestible manner. As you will be spending an extensive amount of time with the patient, their families might also expect you to share your observations and team’s recommendations with them.
As a Care Specialist, you will also be expected to do assessments of both the patient and the patient’s living conditions. Following that, you can then recommend the patient’s family members any home modifications, potential risk areas in the home (that might lead to a fall, for example), or equipment they they can get that can help make their caregiving journey much smoother.
Is being a caregiver worth it?
Although a career in caregiving may be challenging, it will most definitely be a very fulfilling and rewarding career. What better way to better your day than by bettering someone else’s? Caregiving in general is a great entry point to the healthcare industry. If this is something that has always intrigued you, why not take a leap of faith now?
If you are interested in joining the healthcare industry and making an impact on the lives of others, but have no prior healthcare experience, being a caregiver is a great way to start and boost your resume.
- Bavis, J. (2020, August 26). 4 Fulfilling Career Paths For Successful Caregivers. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffbevis/2020/08/26/4-fulfilling-career-paths-for-successful-caregivers/?sh=5333f6653134
- Hui, J. (n.d.). How to be a Professional Caregiver in Singapore (No Experience Needed!). Homage. Retrieved August 9, 2022, from https://www.homage.sg/resources/professional-caregiver-singapore/
- Jevs. (n.d.). Following a Caregiver Career Path. JEVS Care at Home. Retrieved August 9, 2022, from https://jevsathome.org/caregiver-career-path/
- Johns Hopkins Medicine. (n.d.). Being a Caregiver. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Retrieved August 9, 2022, from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/caregiving/being-a-caregiver
- MDIS. (2021, September 6). 20% New Nurses in Singapore this year, why are more people taking up nursing? Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS). Retrieved August 9, 2022, from https://www.mdis.edu.sg/blog/20-new-nurses-in-singapore-this-year-why-are-more-people-taking-up-nursing/